As with a lot of our comics, inspiration from this one came from various sources:

First, the title is an obvious reference to Soylent Green. Although the emphasis in the film is on overpopulation and destruction of natural resources, I’ve always been fascinated by the ease with which people label things to make them more palatable. We don’t eat cow, pig or sheep, but beef, pork and mutton. The men and women of the future don’t eat people, they eat Soylent Green. Such labelling helps to distance us from the ugly truth that we’re eating animals that have had to be fed and raised only to be slaughtered to satisfy our palates. With meat increasingly being sold in pre-packaged plastic containers in supermarkets, the psychological distance between the food we eat and the way in which it is created grows ever larger. I’m not convinced that distance is a good thing.

But what is meat? That’s the second bit of inspiration for this comic. I’ve always enjoyed deconstructing things, breaking them down into their individual components. I was the kid who would take everything apart (and occasionally get them back together again). I’m the visitor to an art gallery who stops to wonder just how much graphite needs to go on a page before a line becomes a drawing. I’m the person who occasionally like to tease his vegetarian friends by pointing out that beef is just processed celulose, water and air. Thankfully for those frustrated vegetarians who would like to give up on meat but don’t have the will or the tastebuds to do it, those masters of deconstructionism, scientists, should one day be able to grow palatable artificial meat.

This comic also subtly raises a question about our humanocentric view of the universe. To us a cow is clearly an animal, not a machine – but to The Greys it’s a machine not an animal. It might just be semantics. It might be that The Greys consider themselves to be machines. Or it might be that their biology is so different from ours that they can see no relationship between the living creatures that they know and understand, and the weird messy bovine organs of Daisy. If there is life anywhere else in the universe it’s not necessarily going to be based on DNA, or even anything close to it – it’s just that it’s hard, if not impossible, for us humans to conceive of life in any distinctly different form.

Lastly, of course, we’re still trying to work out what it is that the aliens want with our cows.

Cette bande dessinée est aussi disponible en français
This comic is also available in French

Komik ini juga tersedia dalam Bahasa Indonesia
This comic is also available in Indonesian

Click here to download the SVG source for this comic

↓ Transcript
[Two Greys are talking]

G1: Ah, you've returned. Did the humans have any interesting technology?

G2: Sir, they have a most incredible machine. It turns water and waste cellulose material into a protein rich foodstuff

G1: Amazing

G2: That's not all. It also produces a calcium rich liquid which can be drunk directly, or further processed into a number of different foods

G1: That's incredible. It must be a highly complex machine

G2: It is, sir - but it's capable of self repair for minor problems

G1: This machine sounds more and more impressive. Please tell me you managed to get the blueprints

G2: I did even better than that sir... I actually managed to steal one of the machines

[Scene shows the second Grey leading in a cow]